Decision 2014

Organizers of South Texas Gubernatorial Debate Clarify Details

Now that Attorney General Greg Abbott has pulled out of the televised gubernatorial debate with State Sen. Wendy Davis scheduled for Sept. 30 in Dallas, does that leave all of us without a statewide televised debate? That depends on your definition of statewide.

According to WFAA-TV, theirs would have been the only debate available in every television market in the state. That would have included all Gannett-owned stations in Texas in the following markets: Abilene, Austin, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Tyler/Longview, San Angelo, San Antonio, Waco, and Bryan/College Station. Any station located in a non-Gannett market would have also been allowed to broadcast the debate.

According to Carlos Sanchez, editor of the McAllen Monitor, the debate his newspaper is co-sponsoring will air on all Sinclair-owned television stations across the state, including: Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont/Port Arthur, El Paso, Harlingen/Weslaco/Brownsville/McAllen, and San Antonio. While it is not be available to English-language stations in other Texas markets, it will be available live on the Internet, and will be simulcast in Spanish on all Telemundo stations in Texas. That debate is scheduled for Sept. 19.

As for formats, WFAA indicated theirs would have been a “round-table” format without strict time guidelines. Sanchez said the Rio Grande Valley debate will have a more traditional format, with timed responses. Each candidate will get one minute to respond to a question, and 45 seconds to offer a rebuttal. There will be no opening statements. Each candidate will receive two minutes for a closing statement.

 

 

 

Davis Responds to Abbott’s Decision to Cancel Debate

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott has backed out of the only scheduled statewide televised debate before the November election. The debate, which was to be hosted by WFAA-TV, was set to be held in Dallas on Sept. 30. Station officials say Abbott’s campaign cited concerns over the format as the reason for the reversal.

In a statement on their website, WFAA-TV General Manager Mike Devlin said,

“We are deeply disappointed that the Abbott campaign has not lived up to the commitment it made to participate in this important debate. WFAA has produced numerous debates which are balanced and fair to all the candidates. This debate would be no different. The citizens of Texas deserve to hear from the candidates for the most important office in the state.”

Abbott’s Democratic challenger Sen. Wendy Davis had initially proposed six debates across the state. Abbott only agreed to a debate in McAllen later this month, and the now-cancelled WFAA debate.

Davis campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas issued this statement, Friday:

“It’s no surprise that Greg Abbott is pulling out of a long planned debate the day after he was defeated in court for protecting billions in public education cuts that have led to overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and shuttered schools. Greg Abbott is clearly too afraid to defend his record of siding with insiders at the expense of Texans – whether it’s defending funding cuts for classrooms, siding with a corporation against a victim of rape or letting his donors take tens of millions of taxpayer dollars intended for cancer research. This is nothing short of an insult to the voters of Texas.”

Texas Candidates for Governor Respond to School Finance Ruling

Any possible changes the Texas Legislature makes to the school finance system will happen under the watch of the next governor. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is the current attorney general. His office represents the state in school finance litigation. Officially, his office said he would defend this law in court, just as he would any other law passed by the Legislature.

Later Thursday, his campaign released this statement:

“Our obligation is to improve education for our children rather than just doubling down on an outdated education system constructed decades ago. In my campaign for governor, I have proposed substantial improvements for our schools that will do a better job of educating Texans while spending tax dollars wisely. My plan will make Texas top-ranked in the nation for education by returning genuine local control to school districts, ensuring all children are reading and doing math at grade level by third grade, and graduating more students from high school than ever before.”

Sen. Wendy Davis is also weighing in on today’s ruling. She has long criticized the Legislature’s decision to slash $5.4 billion in school spending in 2011. In a statement Thursday, she said:

“Today is a victory for our schools, for the future of our state and for the promise of opportunity that’s at the core of who we are as Texans. The reality is clear and indefensible: insiders like Greg Abbott haven’t been working for our schools; they’ve been actively working against them. Abbott has been in court for years, defending overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and public-school closings, and today, Judge John Dietz ruled against him. This ruling underscores the crucial need to invest in education and reminds us of just how much our schools, teachers and students have had to sacrifice over the past three years just to get by.”

Capital Tonight: Is Going Negative a Good Strategy for Davis?

The Wendy Davis campaign has come out swinging with its first statewide TV ad, attacking Greg Abbott for his decision in a 1998 case during his time as a Texas Supreme Court Justice. Meanwhile, the Abbott team is taking a friendlier approach, focusing on the candidate’s family and history instead.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at both strategies to see why going negative might work.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

The Texas delegation in Congress is back in-district and defending their response to the border situation. We heard from House members on both sides of the aisle. Plus, Bob Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle and Texas Monthly’s Erica Grieder joined us to weigh in on that story and more. 

 

CHECKING THE FACTS

Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to break down two claims, including one from Gov. Perry on border-crossings and the threat of terrorism. 

Davis Team’s First Statewide Ad Attacks Abbott over 1998 Decision

The Wendy Davis team has revealed its first statewide TV ad, an attack on Gregg Abbott over his ruling in a 1998 case involving a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman and the accusation of rape.

Entitled “A Texas Story,” the 60-second ad refers to a 1993 case in which a woman accused a door-to-door Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman of raping her in her own home. The salesman was not prosecuted for the crime, but the case went before the Texas Supreme Court after the woman sued the Kirby company for punitive damages, claiming that a simple background check would have shown the man’s criminal history and prevented the sexual assault.

The court ruled in 6-3 favor of the woman, with then-Justice Abbott joining in the dissenting side. In their dissenting opinion, Abbott and Justice Priscilla Owen said Kirby “owed no duty” to the victim under the circumstances of the case.

You can watch the full ad below.

Patrick Names New Communications Director

Sen. Dan Patrick announced Monday that his campaign has hired Alejandro Garcia as its new communications director. Garcia previously worked as the director of border affairs under three Texas secretaries of state. He also worked as press secretary for Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

In a statement, campaign manager Allen Blakemore said:

“We are very excited to have Alejandro join the campaign as our new Communications Director. Alejandro has hit the ground running and brings a fresh perspective to the team.  His political campaign experience in communications strategy is a perfect fit to secure our victory in the upcoming November election.”

Patrick, a Republican, is running to replace current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. He faces Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in the November election.

Patrick, Van de Putte Running Close Financial Race

Republican Sen. Dan Patrick and Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte are running a tight financial race to be the next Texas lieutenant governor.

According to campaign fundraising numbers released this week, Patrick has raised nearly $7.8 million since he started his campaign in July 2013. Patrick, who ran a bitter primary against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, attributes about $1 million of that money to the post-runoff donations. Patrick has about $950,000 in cash on hand.

Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, meanwhile, has $1.6 million in her campaign bank account. Van de Putte, who ran unopposed during the primary, has raked in a total of $2.3 million since her campaign launched last November; about four months after Sen. Patrick announced his candidacy.

Abbott Posts Record-Breaking Fundraising Totals

Attorney General Greg Abbott released his own record-breaking fundraising totals Tuesday. Abbott raised $11.1 million in the last four months, bringing his total cash on hand to nearly $36 million. According to the Abbott campaign, that is more cash on hand than any other candidate in Texas history.

The Abbott campaign also pointed out that 95 percent of his contributions came from Texas.

“The strength of this campaign builds each day, and we continue to be overwhelmed by the support we’re receiving from across Texas,” Abbott Campaign Manager Wayne Hamilton said. “We are incredibly thankful to the many Texans who have contributed to our effort to ensure that Greg Abbott can continue to travel the state promoting his vision to improve education, grow jobs, preserve freedom and ultimately achieve victory in November.”

The Democratic nominee, State Sen. Wendy Davis, has raised a total of $27 million and has about $13 million in the bank. Those totals include money donated to Battleground Texas and the Texas Victory Committee.

Davis Campaign Reports $27 Million in Campaign Contributions

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has raised $27 million in her bid for governor. According to the campaign, $11.2 million of that was raised between February and June and the average donation was about $105 dollars. After expenditures, the campaign has about $13 million in the bank.

The money raised includes contributions made directly to the campaign, as well as money donated to Battleground Texas and the Texas Victory Committee, which is a joint fundraising venture for Sen. Davis and Battleground Texas.

The campaign is calling its campaign finance figures “historic.” “Not only has this campaign raised record-breaking resources from more than 140,000 grassroots supporters, we have made unprecedented investments on the ground and online that will translate the excitement for Wendy Davis into votes on Election Day,” said campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas.

The Davis campaign likely still has a massive financial disadvantage. As of the last reporting period, Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott had nearly $30 million in cash on hand. He has not announced his totals for this reporting period yet.

New Abbott Ad Hits the Silver Screen

The next time you go to the movies, you might find yourself screening a new ad in the governor’s race. Attorney General Greg Abbott is airing a 30-second spot at two dozen movie theaters across Texas. It urges patrons to text their support for the Republican’s run for governor. According to the Abbott campaign, this ad appears to be the first of its kind.